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Plant Cell. 2003 Feb;15(2):533-43.

The roles of auxin response factor domains in auxin-responsive transcription.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Missouri, 117 Schweitzer Hall, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA.


Auxin response factors (ARFs) are transcription factors that bind to TGTCTC auxin response elements in promoters of early auxin response genes. ARFs have a conserved N-terminal DNA binding domain (DBD) and in most cases a conserved C-terminal dimerization domain (CTD). The ARF CTD is related in amino acid sequence to motifs III and IV found in Aux/IAA proteins. Just C terminal to the DBD, ARFs contain a nonconserved region referred to as the middle region (MR), which has been proposed to function as a transcriptional repression or activation domain. Results with transfected protoplasts reported here show that ARFs with Q-rich MRs function as activators, whereas most, if not all other ARFs, function as repressors. ARF DBDs alone are sufficient to recruit ARFs to their DNA target sites, and auxin does not influence this recruitment. ARF MRs alone function as activation or repression domains when targeted to reporter genes via a yeast Gal4 DBD, and auxin does not influence the potency of activation or repression. ARF CTDs, along with a Q-rich MR, are required for an auxin response whether the MRs plus CTDs are recruited to a promoter by an ARF DBD or by a Gal4 DBD. The auxin response is mediated by the recruitment of Aux/IAA proteins to promoters that contain a DNA binding protein with a Q-rich MR and an attached CTD.

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